Following a comprehensive win and a goal for the ages, David Villa and the Boys in Blue are back in Yankee Stadium to play expansion twins Orlando City. Orlando’s been a thorn in New York’s side since the two clubs joined MLS, and NYC will be looking to avenge their early season loss this Sunday.
Last Time We Played
On matchday one of the MLS season, NYC FC was on the road in a raucous environment, playing the first competitive match in Orlando City Stadium. Backed by the supporters, the home team took it to New York, pressuring the side as they tried to play it out the back and frequently dispossessing the visitors in their own half.
Despite losing Kaka early to a hamstring injury, Orlando took the first goal of the game before the 20 minute mark, with Cyle Larin slipping in behind the back four to finish from a dangerous Giles Barnes cross.
New York would be the aggressors for the rest of the match but could not find the back of the net. Alexander Ring was unable to convert 1v1 against keeper Joe Bednik, while Jack Harrison was denied on a glorious chance to start the second half. Orlando fought together and took all three points in an evenly contested affair.
What’s Happened Since
Orlando has been red hot, going on to take 12 points from 15 to start the season and beating the likes of Philadelphia Union and New York Red Bulls, losing only to Columbus Crew. The team has benefited from home-heavy scheduling, playing just the Columbus game on the road.
In their most recent match, Orlando beat LA Galaxy 2-1 in an entertaining, back-and-forth contest. Orlando held onto a precarious 1-0 lead until the 84’, when LA grabbed the tying goal. The game neared full time with the teams deadlocked, only for Orlando to grab a stoppage time winner from Cyle Larin and snatch all three points.
How They Play
Under Kreis, Orlando has seemingly bought into the ex-NYC FC manager’s system and the results have shown it. Kreis has instilled an attack-minded philosophy into the team, looking to control the ball and keep his opponents pinned back in their half.
Kreis’s teams play out the back and try to build up an attack behind possession-oriented midfielders. His teams dominate in shots taken, but NYC fans will remember that that stat can be misleading, and the quality of the chances can sometimes be lacking in his system.
Here’s how we expect Orlando will line up Sunday, courtesy of our friends at the Mane Land.
Utilizing a 4-4-2 diamond formation, Orlando uses its four midfielder players to control the pace of the game but can be caught out if their midfielders find themselves too far up the pitch.
Player to Watch
We detailed him the first go-around when we previewed opening weekend, and we’re going to do it again a month later - Cyle Larin is the player NYC should be worried most about this Sunday. Larin kills New York, unquestionably. He’s scored 7 goals and added 1 assist in 6 games against NYC FC in which he started.
Larin is a headache for any CB pairing as he can elevate over top and finish with his head or run in behind and find himself 1v1 with the keeper. Callens and Chanot will have their hands full tracking the Orlando City talisman.
Orlando Fun Facts
We only just detailed some Orlando City fun facts, so instead I’ll post my three favorite Florida Man headlines from this past month:
Florida Man Arrested after Stealing Neighbor’s Underwear
Florida Man Steals Sausage, Jumps off Bridge to Avoid being Caught (small bridge, he was arrested)
Florida Man Arrested After Eating Pancakes in Crosswalk
Predictions from HRB
In our three questions exchange with Mane Land, I predicted a 2-1 NYC win, with goals from Harrison and Villa. Here’s what the rest of our staff thought:
Sam Dunn: “1-1. Alex Ring beats Bendik with the Johnny Cage shadow kick to put NYC ahead, but Larin scores with his face and it's a wrap.”
Charles Dunst: “2-1, goals from Villa and Moralez, Larin with one for Orlando.”
Raf Noboa y Rivera: “2-2, goals from Villa and TMac, Larin with a brace.”
Calvin Daniel: “1-0 to the Blues, Moralez gets the goal.”